Questions to ask Before you buy a Motorcycle

Questions to ask – Before you buy a motorcycle

 

Many a first-time biker is faced with which type of bike to buy when entering the world of motorcycles. Some folks sit with the same dilemma when making a lifestyle or budget change….the fact remains that before signing on the dotted line and committing to the purchase of a motorcycle there are some important questions you need to ask yourself.

Biking is not merely a hobby, it becomes a part of who you are, it gets intertwined with your genetics…part of your DNA. Okay maybe I am exaggerating a bit, but if you are as enthusiastic about biking as I am…it is a thing that runs in your veins and buying a bike is almost a matter of the heart, a decision lead by emotions. But regardless of what riding a bike means to you, the following basic questions will help you in choosing the bike best suited for you.

  • Is it your first bike? If yes, it is generally recommended to then look at bikes with an engine displacement/capacity of 650cc or smaller.
  • When do you want to ride?  Do you want to ride every day, commuting to work and back as well as doing the weekend out-rides? Obviously riding everyday means that fuel economy and comfort will play a roll.
  • Is it your only bike? If it is, you need to give serious consideration to all these questions as your motorcycle will then be a type of investment in my opinion. If it is not your only bike or only mode of transport, well then you are basically only limited to the thickness of your wallet.
  • How important is fuel economy? Most motorcycles will give you at least 15km/L or more, depending of course on how heavy your right hand is. But if saving money on travel costs is important to you, you should definitely consider bikes in the 600cc-800cc engine range as these are known for figures of in excess of 20km/L
  • Where do you want to ride with it? Here it is very simple, will you be riding on-road, off-road or do a bit of both? And your answer will basically leave you with either buying a scrambler, dual purpose bike or any of the other types of road bikes.
  • How long do you want to keep it? Is it a bike that you’ll keep for a lifetime, making it part of the family and many good memories or do you want to buy & trade over the years until you settle on that special bike that will be a gift from me to me on your retirement?
  • How often will you lift/pillion someone? This is important as not all bikes are built for 2 and some that are is not that comfortable for the pillion/passenger either. If you gonna ride two-up a lot it is recommended that you consider or at least have a look at motorcycles in the tourer, sport-tourer, grand-tourer, cruisers and dual purpose classes.
  • How much are you willing to spend on maintenance? This is largely influenced by parts availability (quality of after sales service, dealer locations, and where parts are imported from), the drive train (chain, belt or shaft driven) of the bike, the power of the bike and your riding style (eg. Regular hard acceleration, wheelies etc.) and willingness to look after it (keep it clean and service it regularly, use of original or generic parts).
  • How much are you willing to spend on the purchase of a motorcycle? This is basically self explanatory. Either how much do you have to purchase a bike, cash or if you finance the bike, what is the monthly installment you can afford. Opinions will vary but I recommend opting for a fixed interest rate if you’ll be financing your bike. And remember to calculate monthly insurance installments into your budget as well. It is strongly recommend that you don’t fixate on a specific dealership. Shop around and negotiate as you’ll find some dealers are more eager to do business than others.

 

For 2nd hand motorcycles you need to have a look at the following:

  • Maintenance record
  • Re-spray or custom paint jobs
  • Condition of the brakes, tires and drive train
  • Oil and fluid leaks
  • Dents and scratches (some may be evident of an accident)
  • Proper working of lights, electronics and locks
  • Toolkit (some bikes come standard with a basic toolkit)

I’ve learnt that answering these basic questions will help one to make a choice one won’t regret when going to one’s favorite motorcycle dealership to buy that dream bike and invest in a lifetime of joy and friendship as you become part of the motorcycle fraternity and explore the freedom.

And What did I buy?

Well, in my case I was looking for a bike with a durable and proven engine (larger than 1000cc)& mechanics, average to good fuel consumption (17-20km/L), comfortable for both me & the misses. A brand with a good dealership network and good after sales service as well as parts availability. So keeping maintenance affordability in mind, I (actually me & the wife)decided on a second hand machine, costing less than  R80 000 to purchase and which can comfortably take me & the misses anywhere we want to go, whether it be on tarmac or gravel (off-road)……a 2004 BMW R1150GS.

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By: Hector Jamieson

Why we Ride

Why we Ride

It’s an early spring morning, you can smell nature and the open road. You make sure your tent and luggage are securely fastened on the bike. The leather smell of well worn gloves, leather jacket & boots sends a tingly feeling of excitement through your nerves. You put on that helmet that’s gain the occasional scratch or few over the years. Key in the ignition, a slight twist of the throttle and off you go to a destination of choice….this is a common scene for many motorcyclists.

But why do we ride motorcycles?

For some it started as a form of rebellion, for some it’s a means of escaping circumstances and reality, for some it’s all about family and a sense of belonging, for some it’s a lifestyle and for some it is simply a means of transport. No matter how it started out for you, eventually it will become part of your genes and you will most certainly experience the “leave no man behind” moto in some or other form in the course of your lifelong two wheeled journey. For many of us the first few years of biking is the lone ranger on his iron horse, building character with his two wheeled companion and gaining mountains of knowledge and experience through many road side repairs, late nights riding in the rain and the occasional “oops” moments. Few things in life are as satisfactory as working on a motorcycle that has made a connection with your heart. Stepping back upon completion, give a deep sigh filled with pride and satisfaction as you look, even stare at that part you’ve successfully repaired, serviced, or customised.

Somewhere along the way you will meet like minded motorcyclists and riding with these mates, these brothers in biking is for many the ultimate form of biking…group therapy at its best. These are the people that are always there to help…their ability to help only exceeded by their willingness to help and support a brother or sister of the motorcycle fraternity. With these folks you build friendships that last a lifetime.

Then there is the risk or the thrill of motorcycling. Some call it dangerous, but us bikers call it “living life to the fullest, one kilometre at a time”.  Yes motorcycling is dangerous, but so is showering-you can slip, fall and break an arm in the shower. Does that prevent you from getting in the shower…NO!! In the same way a biker chooses not to live life in fear, but rather in excitement. The occasional “close-call” merely helps us to appreciate life and encourages us to live life to the fullest. Acknowledging the risks simply helps a true biker to respect the road and the limits of his own riding abilities.

Riding a motorcycle is in my opinion the best remedy for anger or an aching heart. It is the best medicine for a stuffed nose, blocked sinuses or headache. It’s the ultimate expression of joy and freedom.

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“Motorcycling, being a biker is all about hanging out with real people, without pretense and sharing the respect we have for our motorcycles and each other. This is how great stories and legends are made.”

 By: Hector Jamieson

Philips Automotive Lighting

Phillips X-treme Vision

Philips lighting has a wide range of automotive lighting options in the form of various headlight globes, LED Park light, globes and interior lights. Let’s have a look at my three favourite globe options.

  • Diamond Vision – these 12V 55W globes produces a white “xenon-like” light. At 5000k it is however not “E” rated and thus might not be legal for road use. It generates an extremely bright light that will give good visibility to the user. The blue coating of the bulb/globe is what produces the intense white light.  dv
  • Crystal Vision –  these 12V 55W globes gives the brilliant blue/white look of HID. Shining at 4000k I doubt that there is any halogen that is whiter. In my opinion, it’s not really that they shine further as much as they shine brighter and marginally wider than standard globes

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  • X-treme Vision – these 12V 55W globes produce a less yellow light than standard globes but a obvious much brighter light shining at 3700k. It will shine light up to 45meters further than standard globes and up to 30 meters wider. These globes can deliver up to an astounding 130% more light and are 100% DOT compliant!!

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These lights require no modification to the wiring or headlight casing/housing. They install the exact same way as any other halogen headlight. These 3 versions of Philips globes are suited for any vehicle or motorcycle and is available from your nearest retailer in H1, H4, H7 and H7 guise.

 

My personal favourite and the globe I currently use in my vehicle as well as my motorcycle is the X-treme vision. This is because I was not looking for a whiter or brighter light but rather a globe that will give me a better field of vision, shining brighter, further and wider than the stock globes. In my opinion the xtreme vision produces a relatively whiter light or less yellow like light than the standard globes. However I do believe that the reflective surface of the headlight housing plays a significant role in the effectiveness of the globe, but regardless the afore mentioned you will most certainly enjoy a noticeable better light from your vehicle or motorcycle’s headlights with Philips X-treme Vision Globes.

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Images from www.philips.com

 

By: Hector Jamieson

BMW R1200RS – Review

BMW R1200RS – 2015

Recently I was privileged enough to sample the brand new BMW R1200RS. Now I’ve had the opportunity before to ride both the new R1200GS and R1200RT and I’m of the opinion the RS is the result of these to getting together.  For the guys who don’t want a big adventure bike or a big tourer like the RT (styled more in line with the new K1600GT) the RS is the best of both. The new RS comes more than 20yrs after the launch of the now classic R1100RS and like its predecessor the new R1200RS looks striking, yet proportional to the eye and an absolute charm to ride….a real wolf in sheep’s clothing. The RS has the exact same 1170cc DOHC “boxer” motor as the new water cooled R1200GS, R1200RT and R1200R, the big difference being the gear ratios. With hard acceleration and especially when taking to the open road one fully appreciates the 125Nm of torque that’s there on demand. The RS feels sporty and almost hyperactive with that classic and reliable boxer engine at the business end of things. The boxer motor is as reassuring as a homemade desert.

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It has sports advanced electronics that make it almost fool proof even in the trickiest of conditions. The “bells-and-whistles” include among many things 3 riding modes (Rain, Road, Dynamic), manual screen adjustment (2 settings), ABS, heated grips, cruise control, ESA and a magnificent 6 speed gearbox that shifts perfectly without the use of the clutch (wet clutch). Changing gears with the clutch is one of the smooth I’ve ever experienced; the opposite is true when changing without the clutch. A slight “blip” of the throttle is all you need to shift gears clutchlessly (I’m sure that’s a new word), it is however smoother when done at higher speeds.

 

This is the kind of bike you wouldn’t trade/sell but rather build a trusting lifelong relationship with. Every time you get on it, is as exhilarating as the day you first met that “perfect” girl (hopefully she also became your wife). With this bike, BMW builds on their reputation of producing market leading sports-tourers. Although the larger radiator for the new liquid cooled motor means the traditional tele-lever suspension is a thing of the past as it made way for the more conventional forks, the quality remains firm yet comfortable. Suspension travel is 140mm for both the front and rear. Being used to the seating position of my GS, the RS did take some getting used to. Seating pulls the upper body in more forward leaning position than the up-right seating position of the R. I did do a short stint in rush hour traffic and must say the RS is extremely stable regardless of the speed you do. As on most BMW’s the brakes are confidence inspiring.

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So, to summarise, in the corners I had to work a bit compared to the ease with which my GS corners. At 1.80 m in length I’m not the tallest guy around but would recommend taller riders to invest in an after-market screen for better wind deflection. Acceleration is smooth, power is plenty available, and your passenger will ride with the same comfort as you on a well-balanced bike. If you have close to R200 000 lying around, this is most certainly a bike you need to consider….you simply can’t go wrong with this bike.

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Technical Data

  • Displacement                    1170cc horizontally opposed 2 cylinder DOHC
  • Power                                      92kw & 125Nm
  • Brakes                                     (F)2x320mm (R) 1x276mm Brembo
  • Tyres                                       (F)120/70ZR/17 (R)180/55ZR/17  radial
  • Consumption                     5.5L/100km
  • Fuel type                               95 octane unleaded
  • Fuel capacity                      18L with approximately 4 L  reserve
  • Weight                                   236kg(wet)
  • Seat height                           low/high 760/840mm
  • Suspension travel            140mm front and rear

By: Hector Jamieson

BMW C650GT & C600Sport scooters

BMW C600 Sport scooter
&
BMW C650GT scooter

 

Not too long ago I had the privilege of riding 2 revolutionary scooters from the BMW stable for the weekend, and I must say it drastically changed my perception of the premium class scooter. In my opinion the BMW C650GT and C600Sport scooters are two of the most under rated modes of transport in the two wheeled market. But let’s get technical first before I continue ranting on about these scooters.

Contrary to what the naming of these scooters suggest both the C650GT and C600 Sport have the same 647cc liquid cooled, 4 valves per cylinder parallel twin engine developing 45kw/60hp and 60N.m. of torque. The GT has a wet weight of 261kg with the Sport tipping the scales at 249kg(wet), both bikes having identical chassis with the weight difference attributed to the difference in fairing design and electronic aid. These scooters have superb cornering capabilities (even by motorcycle standards) due to the low centre of gravity provided by the 70degree forward lean of the parallel twin engine and good ground clearance. The steering is surprising responsive, given the 15inch wheels fitted to the scooter and handling is an absolute dream on this uber machine that is a magnificent city hopper and equally awesome on the open road taking you to speeds of up to 180km/h. The Continuously Variable Transmission (CVT) is very smooth and helps in giving this two wheeler lively acceleration…..turn the throttle and of you go, leaving the traffic behind with ease.

Safe stopping is provided by the three 270mm brake discs and the addition of ABS for that “unexpected” braking incidents. Both models have a wheelbase of 1591mm, LED daytime running lights, heated grips, heat seats (front & back) and adjustable wind screens (electronically on the GT model). Last but not least, a scooter won’t be a proper scooter without decent storage space, something that these scooters have in abundance due to the clever design and engineering by the clever people in their white coats in Spandau, Germany. Two small cargo compartments are situated in the fairing of which one is lockable and equipped with a power outlet. The third storage compartment is naturally situated under the seat and is expandable only when the scooter is parked and enables it to swallow two bike helmets. The other clever design feature that caught my attention is the parking brake which is automatically engaged with the side stand in the “out” position.

So to sum it all up BMW definitely in my opinion perfected the scooter recipe with the C650GT and C600Sport scooters by building a scooter ideally situated for everyday commuting (average fuel consumption of 5L/100km from a 16L fuel tank) as well as designing a scooter that loves eating the long miles on the open road and will give you great joy in any corner. However, it is pricey for a scooter and you can get something like a F800GS from the BMW stable for nearly the same price. But if you are in the scooter market and you have the money, there is no better scooter to buy…..or let me put it this way, buying any one of these two scooters will be a lifetime investment.

Photos coming soon…..

By: Hector Jamieson

GS Steelworks

GS Steelworks

Approximately two months ago I heard about a motorcycle workshop named GS Steelworks situated in Benoni, Gauteng. This is a shop that gives first class service and has valuable interaction with their clients.

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Having a deep passion for my trustworthy BMW R1150GS motorcycle and finding it very relaxing servicing it myself, the ideal would be to go to a workshop where I can learn the things I don’t know yet from an experienced motorcycle technician. And that is exactly what I found at this family business. Andrew allowed me to look on and even lend a hand while he was doing what he needed to do on the motorcycle. His eldest son also jumped in and like his dad worked with effective precision according to “the book”, with his younger brother running about and playing mechanic on his own pit-bike. Andrew’s wife was a wonderful hostess, who immediately let us feel right at home, with a good cup of coffee and real biker music playing in the background.

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The workshop is clean and well organised with everything in its place, simply an aspect that shows that the workshop is run by the best experts in the business.

 

With a sound mind I will recommend GS Steelworks to any motorcyclist who only wants the best technician working on his/her motorcycle.

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By: Hector Jamieson

Motorcycle Essentials – Touring

In our many years of motorcycle travels all over South Africa and to countries such as Lesotho, Namibia and Botswana we’ve learned through trial and error which equipment is essential for most bike trips. Here is a list of some basics you can look at when saddling up your bike for that dream holiday with you motorcycle as your only companion to explore the freedom of the open road and unbeaten tracks with

  • Well ventilated helmet with a high safety rating. Arai, Schubert, Shoei and AGV are some of the helmets you can look at.

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  • Well ventilated gloves for summer riding or properly insulated waterproof glove for winter riding. Some of the companies manufacturing good gloves are, but not limited to BMW, Triumph, Richa, AlpineStar and IXS

dianese gloves

  • Comfortable all-round motorcycle specific boot with decent ankle, shin and toe protection. Most all-round boots are usually waterproof as well. Some of the companies manufacturing good riding boots are, but not limited to BMW, Richa, Forma, SIDI, Dianese and Xpd

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  • A good all-weather motorcycle jacket with good ventilation, enough pockets and long enough to cover your entire lower back. It is essential that the jacket not only have foam padding but decent…..padding on the back, shoulders and forearms. Some of the companies manufacturing good motorcycle jackets are, but not limited to BMW, Triumph, Richa and IXS
  • The same goes for riding pants with good hip, knee and shin protection. Companies manufacturing good riding pants are, but not limited to BMW, Triumph, Richa and IXS

BMW suit

  • Thermal underwear as base layer for cooler conditions. Something with a climate controlling membrane such as First Ascent, CapeStorm and K-Way
  • Thermal gloves to provide that extra layer of warmth
  • Buff to keep your throat warm and protected from bugs
  • At least two pairs of comfortable riding socks
  • Rain jacket and pants if your motorcycle jacket & pants are not waterproof. Look at something that can easily be slipped over your gear within minutes.
  • Ear plugs to subdue the buffeting of the wind against your helmet
  • Photochromatic sunglasses with lenses that change colour depending on the light conditions. Also look at glasses with interchangeable lenses for the different light conditions. Look at brands such as Oakley, RUDY PROJECT and BMW.
  • GPS that you can operate with your bike gloves. Look at GARMIN & TOMTOM
  • A quick drying, super absorbent shower towel that when folded up is no larger than 30cm in length.
  • Wet wipes that can get the hands and strategic parts of the body squeaky clean if there’s no water.
  • At least one roll of toilet paper
  • Headlamp – to pitch camp or fix your bike in the dark. LED Lenser makes some of the best headlamps you can get. Also have a look at Zartek and TrailBoss
  • A hat to protect your face and neck from the sun when your helmet is off.
  • A thin mattress or compact stretcher that will give you a good night’s rest without taking up too much space. Look at brands such as First Ascent, K-Way and ATG.

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  • Sleeping bag – make sure the temperature grading is sufficient for where you are going. Most modern sleeping bags are also waterproof and keep in mind that you need something that can roll/fold up as small as possible to compensate for the limited space on a bike. Look at K-Way, First Ascent, Deuter and 360°
  • Tent – Look at a compact, lightweight and well ventilated tent of about 1.7-2kg. Most decent tents are double-walled and can stand in water of 10-20cm deep. Look at brands such as E3 Gear, First Ascent, MSR and K-Way.

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  • Lightweight compact kettle, cooking set and gas stove
  • Tarpaulin – this is something to consider if you have some space to spare on your bike. This slightly bulky item will provide extra shade, cover for your bike or serve as groundsheet.
  • Emergency Kit
  • Basic tool kit that will include the following; tow rope, Pratley putty, puncture repair kit, air compressor, multi tool and a CRUZ tool kit with all the essential for your bike.

CRUZ Tools

  • Solar battery pack that can charge your phone and other essentials
  • Cash
  • Enough cargo straps to securely tie down all your kit

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Depending on your destination and distance to travel your list might be longer or shorter. Also note that the brands referred to is not necessarily the best or only brands on the market but rather the brands the Jamiesons have used over the years and found to work best for their specific needs.

As a final thought, it is advisable that you always inform family and/or friends of the route you are traveling and estimated times of arrival. This is specifically important when traveling alone and will enable rescue parties to find you quickly should anything go wrong and quite frankly this might save your life.

 

By: Hector Jamieson

Emergency Survival Kit

Whenever one leaves the comfort of your home or travel to places that are a far cry from civilisation you need to be prepared for the unexpected. Always pack & prepare as if you are packing for the “worst case scenario”. What you take with you may greatly vary depending on what you travel with, who you travel with and where you are traveling to.

But here’s a list of some survival equipment to give you a basic list to work from the next time you are preparing for your adventure. Please note that the list is not in any specific order of importance;

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  • Rehydrate or something similar to put back essential electrolytes in case of diarrhoea.
  • Charcoal capsules or something similar that will remove toxins from your digestive system
  • Pain killers/pills
  • Savlon or a similar disinfectant
  • Mecurochrome or something similar that will keep a wound sealed & dry
  • Roll of bandage
  • Few pieces of Band-Aid
  • Pocket knife and/or multi-tool
  • Flint – to start a fire with
  • Handsaw – usually a piece of thinly twisted steel cable(approximately 30-40cm) with a key ring on either end
  • Fishing line and two hooks
  • Packet of Peanuts (150-300g) – or a similar food source with a long expiry date that will put back essential basic vitamins and energy back in your body.
  • Space blanket – also known as thermal or emergency blanket
  • Cable ties
  • Water purifying tablets
  • Plastic bag
  • Compass

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It is vital that all the above be packed in an air & water tight container.

In extreme survival conditions your priorities should as follow;

  1. Scan the area and determine the direction you need to head in order to get rescued for example East or North.
  2. Find water – other than the obvious sources you can also look near vegetation, inside bamboo, dig on the outside bend of dry river beds….these are some of the many sources of water (purify it by boiling, filtration or water purifying tablets). An average person can survive 3 days without water.
  3. Shelter to protect you from the elements – the terrain will determine the type of shelter required ( e.g. swamp, desert, forest etc.)
  4. Fire to stay warm, boil water, cook food and keep animals at bay.
  5. Food to put essential energy and vitamins back in your body. Fish, bugs, crabs and reptiles are some of the best food sources. It is extremely important to cook the food properly (over cook is better than under cook). The average person can survive 2 to 3 weeks without food.

I trust that these tips will come in handy if ever you find yourself in a desperate survival situation. But for detailed survival tips and techniques you study books like “The SAS Survival Guide”

By: Pavlovski

Jamieson Adventures